Pulltabs, Home Depot, and Me

There comes a time in many writer’s lives when reality comes a knockin’ with a non-literary two-by-four to the temple and says, “Get thine ass out of the house and find a ‘real’ job. Or two.” I admit I’ve been very lucky for the last eight years to have a sugar mama in my US Postal Service wife and two semi-successful businesses we run out of the house. Between Uncle Sam, Prides, and online sales, we’ve managed to make ends meet and I’ve been able to write almost full time. However, between a move to a new city that cut Betty’s hours by half and a late fall online sales meltdown, we’ve had a bit of a crash and burn.

Necessity dictated a fast update to my resume. I blew off some thickly layered dust and plastered that bad boy all around town. Well, actually, it was more a virtual plastering since most jobs are found online these days, but that doesn’t make the story sound nearly as exciting. So I spent a solid two weeks hunched in front of my laptop in Caribou Coffee bouncing between Glassdoor, Indeed, Snag, and a bunch of additional job sites (Omg there are freaking millions of them out there! Who knew???) instead of working on my next book, which has been past due for a couple of years now. But we won’t think about that for the moment. Anyway, that badass resume went to Fleet Farm, Kwik Trip, Centra Care Delivery, Quest Diagnostics Delivery, B&N—who were one of the only companies to get back to me (even though it was a rejection) and a plethora of other employee-seeking entities. 

Back in my mostly before-I-was-a-writer life, I wiled seventeen years of my life in a bingo hall selling cards, pulltabs, cashiering, calling…you name it, I did it. After that I had an eleven year stint at Borders Bookstore as a merchandising supervisor and sales manager. I know bingo, I know pulltabs, and I know book, gift, and game merchandising, and I can kiss customer’s asses errr…I mean provide excellent customer service with the best of them.

One day I saw a post by a local youth baseball charity looking for a pulltab seller. What the hell is a pulltab anyway, you might ask. It’s a small rectangular piece of cardboard you usually pay a buck or two for, and then you rip it apart hoping to find lines within leading to a pot of gold.

Okay, usually the pot of gold is more like a burned pan of brownies–the idea is delightful, but the reality is rather charred with a titch of a bitter aftertaste. Regardless, plenty of people like burned brownies and keep coming back for more. So I applied, interviewed, and…was rejected. That one stung even more than the B&N bookseller brushoff.

Then I perked up when Home Depot called regarding an open spot on their merchandising team. Who doesn’t like Home Depot? Aside from Lynn Ames, of course! Seriously, though, nuts, bolts, lightbulbs, power tools? Piece of cake.

I wowed ’em and got the job. My first day was the start of their Spring Reset. In caps. Never mind it’s -24 with a -40 windchill, spring at the Depot comes early. I walked in to this…

…and thought, Jessie, you sure aren’t at Borders anymore.

I could barely hobble around for the first week (sitting in front of the computer doesn’t do much for keep your bod in shape) but I made it through. I was so excited to tackle my first solo project, the chain saw bay!

Turned out pretty good, even if I do say so myself. As I wallowed in chainsaw afterglow, I got an email from the pulltab people. Someone left and if I was interested, I could be back in burned brownie heaven.

I didn’t have to think too long before I said yes, and suddenly this writer found herself with two jobs working six days a week. Once we finish the spring reset (and manage to switch out the outside garden area in the ever accumulating snow) the hours will settle down. Then  I can reestablish a writing routine and get back on track to finishing that never-ending book of mine.

So, yeah. I’ve now got two “frickin’ real jobs” and after last night selling tabs till 12:30 in the morning, I’ve got a line on a guy named Erbert and his pulltab buddy Randall. Those two are going to find themselves doing something freaky funny in the pages of one of my books! I’ll be able to cull my Depot experiences too, because, let me tell you,  plenty of interesting characters float around the home renovation department.

Life’s an adventure. Sometimes your past catches up with your present and what was old and forgotten is shiny new again. I have to admit the first time I saw a paycheck, THAT was shiny new and pretty freaking awesome. I just have to keep fighting the the writing routine into submission, but you know what? I got this.

What in your life has come full circle? Was it expected? Was it good, bad or none of the above?


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